LEXINGTON, KY (WAVE) - Derby trainer Dale Romans has a lot to be thankful for. He will saddle one of his best hopefuls to date when Medal Count makes a Run for the Roses in the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. He also feels lucky for the capable staff on his Lexington horse farm who showed heroics during a recent delivery of a foul.
On the Romans Farm the young colt, affectionately known Big Boy, already has quite the following.
"He has more personality than any other foal born on this farm," said Farm Manager Teresa Little.
The young guy whose father is Union Rags is massive. He's not even 3 months old and he's already 360 pounds and 51 inches tall, average foals his age are 280 pounds and 46 inches tall.
While his size was the reason for one nickname, he also has another. Since he's so big he tends to be a little rough and nobody wants to play with him so he is also called Rudolf.
His mother, Mother Russia, and him have quite a story thanks to another great mother and son team: Little and Assistant Farm Manager Billy Crouse.
It all started the night of February 9. There were five inches of snow on the ground as Crouse and Little, who are both experienced in the delivery business, kept close watch on then pregnant Mother Russia. First there were contractions, then her water broke but the large baby wasn't ready to come out.
"When I reached in to check the foal you could only feel the head," Crouse said. "When that happens it's alarming."
At least five people at the farm were needed to stand the mare up and try to stop the contractions. Rood & Riddle Ambulatory Veterinarian Dr. Bart Barber got there in minutes.
"When you see a head that big and then you reach in and there's just nothing those legs went back forever," he explained. "We knew we were in trouble."
They got the mare on a trailer but it got stuck in the snow. A tractor hook up got them out.
Little's sister jumped in the driver's seat and they made their way down winding country roads.
"Billy's in the back with no coat on, freezing, so we go flying and I'm going Marilyn! Marilyn! We couldn't stop at any stop signs. We almost jackknifed, we ran every red light," Little said of the drive.
So after some crazy driving maneuvers they finally made it here to Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital where a staff of 20 people were waiting to help with the difficult delivery.
Immediately doctors sedated the mare just like in this case of dystocia, or grueling birth. Then they hung her upside down to help get the big boy out.
Rood & Riddle Internist Dr. Bonnie Barr said, "The longer it takes to get the foal out the more likely the foal is going to have complications."
From the time the water breaks there is a 45 minute window before brain swelling occurs.
"As the vets trying to get the foal out I'm going ‘you've got five minutes! You've got five minutes,'" Little said.
"We knew we were going to have something big," Crouse said. "When they pulled the foal out safe and sound it was like a miracle, I cried."
Thanks to the impressive vets both mama and her 168 pound Rudolf came out just fine.
"They just did a good job keeping him alive and getting him born. He was so big said the biggest one ever born at the clinic," said Roman.
Definitely a delivery for the books.
As for the homecoming? Everyone on the farm is still celebrating. Owner Carolyn Vogel will keep Big Boy and likely change his name.
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